As Far As The Eye Review – Inventive, Beautiful, And Punishing
Rougelikes come in many flavours these days, but I never expected one to come in the tastes catered to players of Civilization of all things. But that’s what As Far As The Eye, a new game about travelling nomads.
What lies under the gorgeous artwork is a deep, intimidating survival game about resource management, careful planning and very, very hard lessons of travelling through the wild. In the format of a turn-based strategy game with hex maps with city-building elements.
As Far As The Eye is gorgeous to look at. And looks nice in motion too. The animations are simple and the randomly-generated maps exciting to look at.
It’s also can be rather busy. In the first few hours, it’s hard to discern which resource is which. And it makes it more complicated that some tiles can have multiple resources, and it layers all of them on one tile which isn’t as readable at first glance. Throw in some other magical stuff that lies in the lands and you’ll get a very busy, yet beautiful, piece of art to stare at.
In most cases, all the things you need to see and find quick can are there, it just takes some time to learn all the many intricacies of the game. But you’ll be scratching your head a lot until you’ve come grips to what exactly you should be doing.
In As Far As The Eye, you control a tribe of nomads (called pupils) travelling in a mobile village. You make stops at halts to gather material so you can proceed to the next halt as you make your way to reach The Eye. These paths can be branching and the halts you visit are all randomly generated, like a roguelike.
Once you’re in the stop, you first start by picking a place for your caravan to settle, and from there, you can (and should) scout the map for resources, and start gathering them. Some resources require special buildings to gather them. And your tribespeople can be assigned to the many tasks, each getting better at their craft and gaining experience.
Also, you need to keep them healthy and have enough food. And you can stay for long as the land hasn’t been hit by the tidal wave- your countdown timer in this game. Also, random events that can negatively impact you, and it gets worse if you are wasteful of your resources.
It’s okay though, despite the many oncoming challenges, it’s a turn-based affair, so you can take as long of a time before committing to your moves.
Punishing Than Expected
Here’s where As Far As The Eye is either brilliant or soul-crushingly hard and not for you: it’s a resource gathering game where you need to gather in moderation or be punished. Hoarders be gone. This is because the game punishes you hard if you hog one of the resource too many.
For one, to move to the next halt, you can only carry as many of the resources as you storage can handle. And it’s not just a solid number. Rather, you need to fit those different resources into whatever shape of storage you have. There’s an attache case simulator in this game. If you love this kind of inventory management seen in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or Resident Evil 4, you’re in a puzzling good time. Or you’ll feel the agony that these oddly-shaped resources, for some arbitrary reasons, won’t fit your luggage and all the time and effort gathering them were a waste.
There’s also other mechanics at play to punish this. There can be random events that will cost you resources. These events do give you a head’s up when it will roughly trigger so you can plan ahead. But that’s the thing- how far ahead can you plan? There are so many plates to spin and you might not even realise that all the wood you’ve just chopped to build a new bakery is all gone because of an event, and now you’re starving and out of food.
On that point, making one mistake in As Far As The Eye and that’s your run over. Just like that one example before, one thing that you looked over and that’s it- you better off starting a new run. You really can’t make a recovery from the playthroughs I’ve went through. The window between an unoptimised city build to an unsaveable mistake is maybe too small for my liking.
But what it wanted to achieve as a game design-wise, it successfully does.
Other smaller niggles I had is that assigning character to task can either be cumbersome or confusing. The tribespeople change appearance based on job task- and their colours are what separates them apart. Although you can change them, I feel the colour palette here is a bit muted and blend too much with the other colours, which still makes them hard to tell apart. You really need to pay attention when playing As Far As The Eye.
There is a tutorial that guides you to all the mechanics in the game. However, I find that the game is front-loading the lore too much that it’s distracting from the core lessons needed to be taught.
As Far As The Eye has some decent variety. Not only through potential strategies to make your way through the lands, but also customisable start options. You can make your run more forgivable or hard to your choosing, and four different tribes with different starting bonuses to play around with. So there are ways to make the game more enjoyable if you found the difficulty to be too relentless.
It’s not much, but it’s what you’d expect from a game of this scale and genre. It gets the job done.
As you may have noticed, I might not have as much of a good time with As Far As The Eye. And it all leads to my personal preference rather than the game’s fault. I play 4X game by making quick decisions, to click through the next turn button as fast as possible- never an ideal way to play these games, but that’s how I do it. And of course, As Far As The Eye punishes you for doing exactly that.
I struggled to keep up with the many resources needed to be in check. And which person needs to keep specialising in what task. As well as making the wise choices of either sinking resources to a mobile gathering stations (which you can carry to next halts, but more expensive to build and even harder to fit in the attache case) or settle with simple ones.
However, if you do relish in the art of management, and keeping track of many tasks at hand and making sure each of them are done yet not done excessively, this is the game for you. As Far As The Eye is a game I can recommend, I just happened to not enjoy it as much.
As Far As The Eye blends a unique set of mechanics, and a layer of gorgeous presentation, to make a fresh take of a rougelike. It’s not for everyone, but for the strategists out there who are up for a challenge, you need to check this one out.
Review copy provided by Goblinz Studio